Joy Harjo with Larry Mitchell appearing in Tulsa Friday night!!

Gig details:

8pm, Friday February 18th
Nightingale Theater
1416 East Fourth Street (just East of Peoria on Fourth Street)
Tulsa, OK
Tickets $12.00 (Cash or check only, please. No credit cards.)
Available at the door half an hour before the show.
This is a great opportunity to experience Joy's show in an intimate venue!


Heart Day

Happy Valentine's Day--Acknowledge your heart. Tell it thank you. Consider its service to you, how it circulates the blood, carries oxygen and love through your body. It is a person. It responds to your thoughts. Try it; you'll see (or hear or feel...). And while you're at it, thank the hearts of those you love: lover, partner (or the one you are imagining!), family members, even the heart of the Earth, the heart of the Sky. JH


The Process of Writing a Memoir is Like Building a House

...."like building a house in a hurricane"--is how Faulker described the writing of a novel.
I just printed up the 300 double spaced pages, and have my scissors to see and rearrange, then go back in and write.
It's due. Now.
In the meantime, pulling up other sources, notes, and researching.
Yesterday I finally got proof that I am also African American through Osceola, his mother. His story and the story of those times are beginning to draw me in. I will write that story one day.
While the manuscript was printing I dug randomly through notes and dreams. I came upon a dream that presaged the title of Lurline's novel, which is based on the screenplay we wrote together of the same name: Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me. The title was in the dream!! As was the shark who was central to the story. It came to me in the dream, and through me to become a central character and presence in the story.
Now I want to dig through my other dreams....
No, back to the story in the whirlwind.



Egyptian Journals: Melodrama and the Revolution 2-2-2011

Melodrama and the Revolution

9:00 am Cairo 2/2/2011

As I sit and write this on the morning of February 2nd, 2011, the Egyptian television is spewing very painful coverage of the revolution.

A huge number of callers are calling all the morning talk shows, to declare their love for the president. The tone is nauseating melodramatic. I was teaching a course on melodrama last semester and I can detect the signs. Callers say how much Mubarak cared for us and how much he loved us as a people, and invariably all of them tend to use that air in their voice, for maximum effect, and almost choke with their passion and love for the president.

Now the caller is young woman from the fancy suburb of Maadi, she said it’s unfair what “they” are doing to him. “They” are the demonstrators we’d have to guess. She pleaded in an accent that shows subtle hints of foreign education that don’t we have corruption or famine, and added that we are going to be like Iraq and other countries.

I know that most of the calls that appear on air are scripted. And as I writer and a director I feel that the writers are very sloppy. One of the worst problems that Egypt is facing is Corruption, capital “C”. It’s a huge problem, in every level of administration one can think of. There so many examples, it deserves a list of articles. It is so widespread that is considered part of daily existence, those asking for bribe do it as an acquired right and most people know they simply have to accept it to get things done. The writer of this call was really off to bring the “C” word to the conversation. But at least the caller didn’t give the audience the standard choking voice from the overflow of emotions.

Right now this Egyptian guy, calling from Emirates, is talking about his enduring love for Mubarak, that if he has his phone number, he’d come back and bring his kids and wife and sit under the president’s feet. I don’t get the connection between getting the president’s phone number and sitting under his feet. But that guy does not tell the audience why is he in Emirates. I suspect that he, like many young Egyptians, can’t find a decent job in Egypt and managed to find work in one of the gulf countries escaping the grueling economic situation. His melodramatic performance is so effective that the TV announcer has tears in his eyes.

I taught my students that melodrama’s high days were in the 19th Century, and it continued in the Egyptian movies till mid 20th Century. But I am forgetting the hundreds of sloppy soap operas that plague all the Arabic TV channels, almost 24/7.

The next call was the funniest. The voice of a young child is calling to say that she wants it all to end, in order to go back to school. This I have really never heard of before. A child is wanting to go back to school.. during midterm vacation. I’d have understood if the sweet voice of this girl said, “I want to go out to play” or “I am tired of the curfew, and I want to leave the house”, but to “go back to school”!! This scriptwriter should enroll in a better writing class.

Egyptian Journals, Dalia Basiouny 2/2/2011

Day 9 of the Egyptian Uprising. 2 2 2011

I am well, but my country is not.

Dear Friends,

I just got internet access today, so I want to write you a quick note before we lose it again.

I am well, but my country is not.
As you must have seen in the media, a beautiful inspiring revolution is taking place in Egypt. More than two million people gathered yesterday in the main square in Cairo to ask the president to leave and let the people govern themselves. It was a beautiful celebration. Egyptians were drunk by the knowledge that as a people they have power to decide. It was amazing, with slogans and very funny chants. A real revolution of LIGHT!

Today is a very different picture. They are slaughtering the revolution, in the worst possible way. The amazing peaceful demonstrations were attacked by organized paid pro-government thugs. Thousands of them entered the square around 2 pm, and started attacking the peaceful anti-government demonstrators, with sticks, rocks, fire, metal weapons and more.

My friends insisted that I leave, and we left around 3 pm, just before camels and horses attacked the unarmed people. It's a horrific scene, that I am following currently on all TV channels. (The Egyptian channels are playing a very dirty game, brainwashing the people, and insisting the peaceful demonstrations are paralyzing the country and destroying it!).

The government is threatening to “Clean Out” the square tonight.. meaning to KILL EVERYONE. As I write this (10:35 pm) the peaceful demonstrators have one dead and 400 injured. They are surrounded in the square, are not able to leave and help or medical services can’t go in to rescue the injured. The official TV is preparing the grounds, not only are the peaceful demonstrators blamed for the paralyzed economy, and destruction and looting, today they are also accusing them of being “paid”, “foreign traitors” and “trained abroad” to topple the government. Most of the population is charged AGAINST the youth who are sacrificing their lives for the rights of their countrymen and women.

I trust that change will happen. The People who woke up will not be put back to sleep again. The Domino effect is starting in this region. I pray that the change will be peaceful, with no more bloodshed.

Pray for the New Egypt. Speak up for Peace.

In Peace,
Dalia Basiouny

SPECIAL FEATURE: Egyptian Journals from Dalia Basiouny

From: Dalia Basiouny

These are some of my notes on my experiences in Cairo, today Feb 3rd, the 10th day of the revolution.

After a very turbulent in Egypt, the morning finally came. The attack on the demonstrators in Tahrir Square seems to stop, leaving so many casualties. I got a couple of phone calls from friends saying they are heading to the square with supplies. I called the friends who live by the square to see what the injured needs are, and to find out if I can get into the square. The images of Tahrir on TV are showing the aftermath of the battle that took place there overnight. It looks like a war zone. No news if they are allowing people to enter. Rumors about thugs blocking the entrances.
After a couple of phone calls, I got a list of medical supplies needed. I called a medical student I know he gave me some suggestions on the kind of medicines, etc. I headed to the pharmacy and got all the anti-biotech they have (thankfully in Egypt it’s over the counter), and passed by a number of other pharmacies to get “neck support”. I drove to downtown.
I usually park a mile away, and walk across the bridge. Today, I was carrying medicine and water (even a few bottles are rather heavy) I parked as close as possible to the check point at the entrance of Kasr El Nil bridge.. Signs of destruction.. Piles of Garbage.. People were gathered. It’s not clear who is who. I saw a familiar face; a journalist who came from New York to cover the uprising. We walked to the entrance together, but we were separated as men and women enter from different places for inspection.
The inspection of bags and ID by the people committees was more vigilant. They were very polite. They apologized profusely before checking us to make sure we are not carrying sharp objects. I was carrying sharp objects. My medical student friend said take medical scissors. I bought two small ones that I fit into a side pocket in my bag. I know they will not find them. They didn’t. I passed the first check point operated by the people, guarded by the military tanks. There was another inspection. I saw Samah, one of the graduates of the theatre department. She was very happy to see one of her teachers there. She said she’s been coming everyday since Jan 25th. She was entering the square with other friends who were also bringing medical supplies. When we passed the check point area we were taken aback seeing the broken parts of the pavement and the garbage. Samah was especially disturbed by the sight. She was one of many who created daily patrols to clean the square. It’s really the cleanest demonstration I have ever been to. People are careful not to litter, and there are so many people who volunteer to clean and sweep the square, throughout the day. Some use the activity to express their political views. Walking with large garbage bags, instead of saying drop your garbage here, they call out “Donate to the National Party” (Mubarak’s party which abused Egyptians for decades.)
We make our way across the square to the make-shift hospital. I am surprised that there are many people there. A whole night of violent attacks did not stop so many of the demonstrators from continuing to demonstrate, peacefully. And many people were flocking to the square in support.
The “hospital” is a tiny corner street mosque, in a back alley. A few square meters. There are a few injured people, resting on blankets on the floor, under cardboard signs designating areas for the different departments. Bone injuries are the most obvious as they have casts. A number of other head injuries with bandages over their eyes, or foreheads, possibly from all the rocks thrown at them by government thugs.
The volunteers in the hospital are very grateful. They are sorting out the supplies. There are many plastic bags with supplies. I apologized for not finding any “surgical thread” at the pharmacy. The doctors said they don’t need any more. Good! That means they sewed up the big wounds. As I drop the few supplies I got, I look around the small busy space. The pigeon holes, where people leave their shoes as they enter the mosque, are filled with different medicines, and supplies. Piles more are gathering in front of the volunteers to sort. It’s so heartwarming to see that so many people came throughout the night and the morning to donate, and to help, and many more were flocking in. While I was there, one of the doctors climbed on a plastic stool and said. “What we currently need is two laptops and two people to enter data about the injured.” I call a friend to inform her about what’s needed. She finds people who can donate a laptop, but needs more information. I go back to the hospital and ask for details. One of the young doctors explain that they don’t want a donation of a laptop, just one they can use to enter data about the people they are treating, and other patients that were taken to other locations in case people are looking for them. They also wanted someone to start a facebook page for the hospital, so that they can share the info of the people they have been treating since the beginning of the uprising. I want to volunteer for the job. I can type fast, but I am not an expert with Excel program. A few minutes after I get back on the square I hear on the microphone that they found two volunteers to do the data entry, and they are still waiting for the laptops.
The guy on the microphone, I couldn’t see his face because of the thick crowds, repeated a few times that under no circumstance people should collect money. Whatever they need, they announce and people provide it. No money collection. The crowd cheered and clapped.
It’s close to noon, and the square is filling up with people. Definitely more than the number present at the same hour the day before.
I walk around the square many of the pavements on the far side, where the major attacks happened, are gone. The street tiles were pulled out and used by the demonstrator to defend themselves in their night fight.
While I stand near the Egyptian National Museum that the demonstrators protected from the petroleum bombs of the thugs last night, I hear a loud banging sound. A young man is using a stick to bang on the metal street fence. Another man picks up a metal bar and starts to bang. It takes me a moment to realize what’s going on. The watchmen on the rooftops of the surrounding buildings saw pro-government crowds trying to enter the square. They warn the watchmen on the ground, who bang the fence to alert the demonstrators. Flocks of men come to that area, to stop the thugs from infiltrating the square. Impressive! The young demonstrators are protecting the National Museum, the square and our future.
Seeing these enduring, well-organized demonstrators, still hanging in there with faith in change, even after a horrific night of defending themselves gives me so much hope for Egypt and the Egyptians.
This is dampened by the news about the thugs circling the square, intimidating people and preventing them from getting in, and confiscating the food and medical supplies. I was waiting to hear from a friend who was driving in with a car full of food and supplies, so I can gather people and go pick it up from him. He called to say the thugs took everything from them!
One of my students called to say that they weren’t letting her into the square and were telling her that there are gunshots and people are being arrested inside. Another had to walk three miles to find an easier place to enter. He was intimidated by a guy who is carrying a sword. Yes, as sword. Yesterday they attacked on horseback and camelback, today swords. Which century do they belong to?
Another friend who lives nearby comes to the square in the morning and in the evening. Today he couldn’t enter in the evening. The thugs stopped him and accused him of being Israeli. They took him to an Army officer, who “advised” him to go back home.
I made it home safely. Tired. More hopeful than in the morning, but worried about tomorrow. The eleventh day. The Friday of Departure. It’s going to be a turning point. Please direct your prayers to Egypt and to Peace on Friday. I know the people defending their rights in a decent life will be triumphant. I deeply hope their path to change will be peaceful.
(Sorry if my sentences are incoherent or unclear. It’s been a very long week, with little sleep.)
Dalia Basiouny
Cairo, 3 Feb 2011